Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gimmie the Glühwein, and no one gets hurt

Knowing that in a few days Sweet No and I would be leaving Germany on our way to the States was putting me under pressure from many different directions.

Do we have all the presents purchased? Is everything on the list so we know what to buy and bring back to Germany as we do some "self-importing"? Isn't packing something you should start to do more than 10 hours before leaving?

But in the back of my head was a troubling thought about something I would be missing in Germany when spending Christmas in the States... Glühwein.

Ah... mulled wine (wiki), the necktar of the Gods. If I left Germany without standing outside in the winter chill, surrounded by a Christmas Market, listening to German Christmas songs while holding a steaming mug of spiced wine... well, things just wouldn't be right with my world.

A few nights ago I realized that Sweet No's company Christmas party would give me a few hours alone after work, and the perfect opportunity to take in some dinner at a Christmas Market (wiki).

I picked my target. The market at Schloss Charlottenburg is not far from my office, and has always been a nice choice.A quick ride on a subway and then bus found me almost skipping toward the shops and food sellers. The smell of grilled meat mingling with roast almonds heightened by the vision of the softly lit tents gave me a spring in my step for certain.

What to do first? After having had no lunch, I was starving at 18:30. Maybe I should find food, eh? While walking around looking for something which would tickle my tastebuds, I found a good price on the aforementioned necktar of the Gods. There were many people standing around sipping the stuff... and I wasn't one of them! Must... have... Glühwein! When I made it to the counter the man listened patiently as I stammered out in shitty German my desire for the hot, spiced goodness. The next question from him was "Mit Schuss"?

Oh... yes, that is right... often the spiced wine just isn't enough, so it is offered spiked with another shot of rum or amaretto. He's asking me if I want a little extra in my mug.

"Gerne, mit Rum bitte" shot out of my mouth without even thinking. Silly me, I had just told him that it would make me very happy if he would put a bit of rum in that hot wine, please.
Money was exchanged for a cute little cup of steaming goodness. The mug itself showed the Schloss (castle, for want of a better word) and had a Pfand (deposit) of three Euro (roughly 4 Dollars).Walking away slowly I took the season's first sip of REAL Glühwein! Hmmm... warm and lovely going down, with just the right amount of tang and aroma to let me know that I'm drinking cheap red wine with some herbs. But it is the experience, you know?

NOW it is Christmas! Now I can get excited about the pine trees for sale everywhere. Now I can look forward to the exchange of presents! Most immportantly now I can go to America, knowing that I've officially opened the Christmas season with my first (and it turns out - my only) Glühwein.About 20 minutes later when I was slurring my words through trying to order some Pierogies from the Polish stand it became evident that I should have thought harder about having food BEFORE the Glühwein... but hey, the buzz just added to the festive atmosphere, eh?

Oh, and that first picture up above... you've got it right, that was the FIRST one I took... AFTER the food... and before sobering up slightly... so it's a little crooked... It's still pretty isn't it?

This is the Russian stall where they sell stuff like Borscht (wiki), beef on a stick (Shashlyk), and this lovely delicacy... fish eggs on dark bread which has been slathered with salty butter.

Hmmmmm. I really thought about trying some, but after my Pierogies and a bowl of Borscht, I figured I'd had enough.

So what about you? What is it that signals the REAL beginning of the Christmas season for you?

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Anonymous said...
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Frau said...

You are too funny! I have enjoyed the Gluhwein as well and will miss it! I too am leaving soon and have not packed. Bringing less with me to save room for what you call "self importing" love it! Safe travels! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Frau said...

You are too funny! I have enjoyed the Gluhwein as well and will miss it! I too am leaving soon and have not packed. Bringing less with me to save room for what you call "self importing" love it! Safe travels! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Frau said...

Oops don't know what happen there....pushing the button one too many times!! Sorry!

headbang8 said...

A six Euro deposit on the cup in Munich markets, if you please.

sarah1976 said...

...but hey, the buzz just added to the festive atmosphere, eh?

And it keeps your butt warm. Or just numb to the cold.

We've actually had a year or two in which we managed to miss Weihnachtsmärkte altogether, and those are sad years indeed. I think we tried to make up for it this year - we've already been about 5 times in 3 different cities.

Have a great trip! Hope your importing scheme doesn't go over the weight limit! And happy holidays!!

Emily said...

For me, Christmas starts with Sankta Lucia on 13th December. Yes, I know I'm not Christian, but it is a holiday based on a good old pagan holiday. Either way, it starts the whole season so nicely.

The two key ingredients to a good Sankta Lucia is glögg (the Swedish equivalent of Glühwein, normally served in a high octane version with a dash of vodka) and lussekatter, slightly sweetened saffron buns in a special shape, decorated with raisins. At this point, singing may happen, generally encouraged by the high octane glögg!

This Christmas will be a strange one, my first as a vegetarian. I'm actually having lots of fun making vegetarian versions of Swedish Christmas food (aubergine pickled herrings, for example). We'll see how it all turns out on the 24th! :)

Emily said...

Oh, Frohes Weihnachten und eine Gute Rutsch! Have a lovely trip to the US! :)

Maria said...

Well, there are those rituals. My daughter and put up Christmas decorations the first week of December. And the nativity. It is a lavish one that I inherited from my parents.

Christmas cards are done mid December.

Liv's Father and two friends are coming in tomorrow. And staying until January 2, so ...busy.

Goofball said...

is there no gluhwein in the USA???? oh poor Americans :p.
A christmas market without the strong smell of gluhwein is no christmas market!

Goofball said...

is Frank going to be a guest blogger again when you guys are in the usa?

Jan said...

One of my blogger buddies posted a recipe for mulled wine (I don't remember which, but I'll go find it if I can), so it's not totally unheard of here in the States. And you make me want to try it!

I'm so American, I know, but Thanksgiving dinner signals the beginning of the holiday season in our household, along with ignoring Black Friday. LOL

Oh - and you take better pictures half-drunk than I do stone cold sober; they are ALL just lovely. But I'm working on it!

Jen said...

It makes me tingle just reading your post. Yeah, I'm having a hard time adjusting to Germany AFTER the Glühwein and Christmas markets. Sigh.